World leaders shouldn’t be in NY for General Assembly: UNGA Prez

UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has proposed that heads of state and government as well as Ministers should not be in New York for this year’s General Assembly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Muhammad-Bande has circulated his proposals to member states and is seeking feedback, Xinhua news agency quoted his spokeswoman, Reem Abaza as saying on Wednesday.

Muhammad-Bande has proposed that only the UNGA President and the Secretary-General will be delivering live speeches in the General Assembly Hall for the opening of the General Debate, which is scheduled for September 22-29, Abaza told a virtual press briefing.

During the General Debate, heads of state and government, or ministers, will not travel to New York to address the General Assembly.

Instead, they will have their pre-recorded video statements played on the screens of the General Assembly Hall, she said.

The world leaders were asked to limit their video statements to no longer than 15 minutes and submit them five days in advance.

Abaza explained that Muhammad-Bande wants the video statements to be pre-recorded to make sure that the General Debate will not be disrupted by technical glitches that are common in live streaming.

“We don’t want to be in a position that the signal is not good enough, so the speech of a president would be cut off,” she said.

“We want to avoid all these technical errors that happen all the time.”

Representatives from delegations of member states in New York will be allowed to make speeches in the General Assembly Hall.

Physical presence in the hall for the General Debate and for other high-level events would be limited to one or, if the situation allows, two delegates per delegation, she said.

Member states have been asked to make written comments by noon Friday.

A draft decision that would take into account the comments will be formulated for adoption by the member states, said Abaza.

Last year, 125 heads of state and government made live speeches during the high-level week.

The longest speech was by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for 50 minutes.

Asked whether the UN will edit down pre-recorded statements that are longer than 15 minutes, Abaza said member states will have to cooperate if they agree on such arrangements.

“If member states agree on the (rule of) 15 minutes, we will have 15-minute statements.”